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WAS IT ALL WORTH IT? -FRY RETROSPECTIVE

pbi

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(This may be more appropriate in Military History: I leave that to the mods...)

We are in the final days of our significant military presence in FRY. With the exception of the individuals remaining on BRONZE and BOREAS, FRY will be part of our history, rather than somewhere we prepare to deploy to. The CF operations in FRY started, (and have largely finished), within the careers of many of us on this board. A lot of us were there, or know people who were. Many of us know people who did not come  home alive, or whole in body or mind, from FRY. Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosovo have all seen a Canadian military presence. Around 40,000 of us went through those places (some more than once) For a long time, it was "the place" for our Army (and to a lesser extent other commands).

So, as FRY begins slowly to fade out of current ops into history, what do we all think about what we did there? Was it worth it? Did we do the right things at the right times? Was NATO all that much better than UNPROFOR, or did the UN just get bad press? Whose agenda were we serving?(those who experienced the HV's offensive GROM in 1995 might want to respond to that)  What have we learned for "next time, next place"?

Over to you.

Cheers
 

3rd Horseman

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PBI glade you set this topic up it should be very interesting to hear the responses.

  To start let me say that I think we proved that the training system, equipment we had and our tactics and doctrine born out of NWE was tested and worked. I think had we had it all to do over again I would have sent SFOR in in 92 followed by IFOR in 96 Followed by UNPROFOR in 99. We just got it backward. I hope history remembers the FRY as Canadas first combat since Korea and truly defined us as a fighting army the could fight a conventional war when tested. I await the discussion with great anticipation.

edit Typo
 

Kat Stevens

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I'm of two minds on this one.  On one hand, I have no doubt that, had we not jumped on those trains from Lahr in March of '92,  the three (at least) sides would have continued slaughtering each other in the thousands. Undoubtedly, we did not achieve the lofty goals set out by the UN to stop the killing, but i do think we staunched the blood flow somewhat.  On the other hand, when I went back in '97 with 2 VP, I was pretty disillusioned to see that things hadn't changed much in my 5 year absence.  No real effort to move forward.
 

3rd Horseman

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Well at least the fighting had stopped when IFOR arrived and I would call that progress. The lofty goals of the UN were only pipe dreams the real mission was to stop the fighting and isolate the war to the bulkans to prevent Bulgaria, Albania, Greece and Turkey from entering....the list could go on. I think it worked.
 

Infanteer

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My experience there leads me to believe that we'll be back there at some point.... :-\

 

a_majoor

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As an interesting observation, I passed through Croatia several times going in and out of Bosnia, to start and end the tour, to HLTA and on the way to Slovenia for a "96". An election was taking place so I saw the posters and billboards both as the run-up and the leftovers in the aftermath. I kept getting that "tweaked" feeling, which came clear as I was looking at historical materials, books and some training material:

Some of the parties and (perhaps) some of the names were associated with the civil war period, including the parties which agitated for the break-up of Yugoslavia and the creation of a "Greater Croatia"

Frankly, I was going from posters and was not able to follow the election in any meaningful way, but this did not seem to be a positive development from my point of view. If we really want to ensure the situation does not reoccur (and not just in FRY but in future situations) it may be necessary that "we" (not Canada alone, but the other coalition powers involved) "de Nazify" the political establishment as part of the rebuilding process..
 

Haggis

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Infanteer said:
My experience there leads me to believe that we'll be back there at some point.... :-\

During Roto 13 we (the RCD BG) seized an awful lot of weapons/ammo/explosives in BiH.  What we took in paled in comparison to what the Brits seized in the Republika Srpska.

The overriding reason ordinary folks gave for holding onto this stuff was "to be ready for when the (pick one) Bosniacs/Croats/Sebs return".
 
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